June is peak season for green beans (also called French beans, string beans, and snap beans). They are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Whether you blanch them, sauté them, eat them raw, or even after thawing them from the freezer, green beans are a nutritious and delicious side dish that nearly everyone will enjoy.
Blanching is a great way to serve many chilled vegetables either in a salad or as a side dish. You could also substitute asparagus, baby carrots, or broccoli for green beans, just blanch and chill them as you would the green beans in the recipe below and you will have a lovely side dish.
Green beans originated in Peru and spread to South and Central America. Spanish explorers from the “New World” introduced them to Europe in the 16th century and then to all parts of the world by trading. When selecting green beans in the market, look for beans that are bright green and free of black spots and blemishes. They should feel firm and crisp. The tastiest green beans will snap easily and cleanly when fresh. Avoid green beans with swollen pods as they will be tough.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
2 cups (about 10 ounces) green beans
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
1 medium garlic clove, smashed under a wooden spoon or knife, peeled, and minced
Line up green beans on a cutting board and trim away the stems. Rinse in a colander and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a vigorous boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with cold water (tap water is OK) and some ice.
Add beans to boiling water and continue to boil for about 2-3 minutes, until they are bright green, crisp, and tender. Avoid overcooking until they become soft.
Transfer the green beans to the ice bath to cool for 4 to 5 minutes. Then drain the beans.
Heat a small sauté pan to medium heat. Add sliced almonds and toast with an occasional stir for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine olive oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper, thyme, and garlic in a salad bowl and whisk together. Toss blanched green beans with the dressing. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds and serve.
Steven Masley, MD
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I’ve been making this recipe for yrs. just without the vinegar. Is the vinegar really necessary?
If you want to skip the vinegar that is ok with me. Keep in mind that vinegar adds stomach acidity, which improves digestion and nutrient absorption. It also lowers blood sugar response after eating food. If those benefits are not worth it, then no problem, skip it. Best, Steven Masley, MD